Chord Pads: Not working for "Feels" by Calvin Harris


I’m testing the Chord Pads.

I wanted to see if Cubase would suggest the chords that are used in “Feels” by Calvin Harris.

To do that, I looked up the key note which is “E minor”, according to FEELS CHORDS by Calvin Harris feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry & Big Sean @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com.
This site also showed that the chords used in this song are “Em A F#m B”.

Next, I clicked on “Load chord preset” in the Chords pads in Cubase, and I selected “Minor Scale E”.
The chord pads now offer me the following: “Emin, F#dim, G, Amin, Bmin, C, D”.

These are mostly different chords than those used in the original song.
What is going on here, and how could I make Cubase show me the chords that the original song uses?


very quick and simplified answer :
maybe the info you have are not accurate,
maybe this song as a lot of song nowadays use paralell borrowing, modal intechanges, tritonic substitutions…
or other tricks that doesn’t play by classical harmony textbook rules.

which means for exemple : you are in E, ( = the key center is E ( the bass note that feels like “home” ) )
but to create interest / entertainement, they’ll replace ( borrow) some chords by some chords from other scales.

Pharell harmony style is heavily influenced by funk / gospel, Jazz type of harmony, which make use ( or even invented ) a lot of those tricks

Having played a lot with chord pad because i do a lot of jazzy stuff and i’m a bad piano player…
i end up very frustrated, because it is very a 1Dimension view of basic classical harmony.

if you want something that can handle this kind of chord progressions and help you undestand them better, there is a vst plugin called scaler.
in version 2, which is coming in may ( check the videos ) it is really aimed as an advanced composition tool that can handle all those “pro level” harmony tricks.

in the meantime with V1.8 ( actual version), it will at least tell you all the most likely scale that could contain this chord set
and indicates you the ones that fit perfectly and the ones that are borrowed.

but to approach this pharrel type of music ( think stevie wonder, soul funk… ) you may check some more jazz harmony theory :wink:


“Em A F#m B” progression is E Melodic Minor Scale. The “Minor Scale Key E” is E Harmonic Minor scale.

// EDITED, i was answering at the same time as you @martin - you’re always here to help :wink: //


sorry for the rant !
but after looking quickly at the track it seems to be in Em Melodic,
basic I - IV - II - V progression, so manageable for chord pads :wink:

inversion / key part goes like this :
Db E A
Db Gb A
Db Gb B

@flavien @Martin.Jirsak

Thank you, but where do I find "“Em Melodic”?
I don’t really understand what you were saying.
Which preset should I select?

In my list, I see these only:


Unfortunately, there are no Melodic Minor Scale presets available.

Thank you. What would you do in this case?

Never looked at the presets,
This is highly surprising … ( !!! )

But you can make a preset yourself :wink:

click on the Em melodic scale,
it 'll show you a long list of chords,
then if you go up and filter the list with the scroll down menu > “Options: Show chords / scales with root:”
the first chord shown will be the basic chord on that scale degree
( of course, only choose root note belonging to your scale ( highlighted in green ) )
then use right click and “assign from midi”, play the notes to assign to a pad, then next…
NOTE : there is no drag and drop possible whatsoever from any midi part / loop to chord pads, you’re stuck with entering them with a midi device / computer keyboard in midi keyboard mode ( alt+K )

when you have entered the 7 chords, you’ll have a basic preset, and can save it…

at least one strength ( most of the time ) of chord pads is adaptative voicing,
which will choose chord inversions for you and make smooth voice leading between chords.
there’s no way to go back to their original state after adaptative voicing has messed with the inversion,
usually, when inversion are critical, i used to enter my chords, lock them right after i enter them,
then make copies and play with adaptative voicing & inversions / tensions on the copies

but if you want to do it very easily and be educated at the same time… take a look at scaler :wink:
it’s light years ahead of chord pads, i never used chord pads again…

Thank you very much!